Research: Less Binge-Drinking Where Cannabis Is Legal

Could it be that decreasing alcohol consumption is connected to the wider, legal use of cannabis?

That’s the provocative idea being offered by the investment banking firm Cowen & Co. which says that in states where adult use of cannabis is legal, the incidence of binge-drinking has fallen 9% below the national average and 11% below non-cannabis states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  estimates one in six adults binge-drinks about four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge. The CDC says that adds up to 17 billion total binge drinks consumed by adults per year, or 467 binge drinks per binge drinker. 

Still, whatever health benefits come from a 9% decline in binge-drinking, the bottom line is that it also affects overall alcohol sales. Using cannabis, it appears, could be what some binge-drinkers do instead.



The Cowen report, centering only on the U.S. was issued for five Canadian companies involved in the cannabis business: Pasha Brands Ltd.,  Aurora Cannabis Inc.  Aphria Inc., Organigram Holdings Inc.  and The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. 

Other recent studies from the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University researchers concluded that alcohol sales dropped by 15% following the legalization of medical marijuana in some  U.S. states. It’s reasonable to suppose that legal, recreational use should impact alcohol sales even more.

Ten states and the District of Columbia allow the recreational use of marijuana, and many analysts see a future in which alcohol and cannabis companies work together on both of their products and new ones like cannabis-infused beverages.

Altria, the world’s largest tobacco company and marketer of  Marlboro cigarettes,  already paid $1.8 billion for a 45% stake in Canadian cannabis firm Cronos. And Constellation Brands, best known its Corona and Modelo beer brands, also now owns a 38% stake in Canopy Growth, another major Canadian cannabis producer.

Cannabis marketing is still in its infancy. An Oregon pot business start-up called Brightside, which makes home deliveries of marijuana in that state, produced a commercial in 2017 that is only viewable on YouTube and the company’s own site. Showcasing various pot-induced behavior (laughing uncontrollably, dancing goofily), it seems like a parody of a drug ad, but it’s for real.

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